Turkish forces have entered 26-27km deep in northern Iraq in the framework of the military operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the area, Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on June 3.
Ankara sees Kurdish militias operating in northern Syria and northern Iraq as a threat to its national security and describe them as terrorist groups. The PKK is the main among these groups.
On June 4, Soylu revaled that Turkey keeps its right to launch a military operation to against the PKK in the Qandil Mountains where one of the PKK HQs is located.
“Qandil is not a distant target for us anymore. Right now, a lot of positions have been seized there, especially in the northern Iraq region,” Soylu told the state-run news agency Anadolu in a televised interview. “Timing is what is important for us right now… Qandil will be made a safe place for Turkey, no one should doubt that.”
Besides the land advance, the Turkish Air Force also carries out airstrikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq.
Another area of the Turkish concern is northern Syria. According to Ankara, US-backed Kurdish YPG and YPJ forces operating there are the local branch of the PKK.
On June 4, the US State Department announced that Turkey and the US had endorsed a roadmap for the northern town of Manbij. The town is controlled by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The SDF is a brand created by the US-led coalition to provide support to the YPG/YPJ and some small non-Kurdish units allied with them. Anakra wants Kurdish forces to withdraw from the Manbij area and has repeatedly threatened them with a military operation.
“First Turkey and the U.S. will work on details of the roadmap to rid Manbij, Syria of the YPG/PKK terror group,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said after a meeting with his US counterpart Mike Pompeo.
He added that there is a specific date and it depends on the steps taken in the field. However, according to Cavusoglu, the plan will be implemented in less than six months.
The foreign minister revealed that the road map would would focus on the removal of YPG/PKK forces from Manbij, the removal of YPG/PKK affiliated individuals from local governing organizations as well as setting up joint US-Turkish patrols and a new local governing administration.